Here's a poem inspired by my observations of moms at the beach:

Beach Moms

Sun glistens off grains of sand.
Water laps the shell-studded shore.
Seagulls soar across the hazy blue sky,
and Mom leads the expedition
onto the beach.

Her troops are in line,
all colorfully clad
in bright matching swimsuits
for easy identification.
No one gets left behind.

Picking out her spot
on the crowded sands
is a matter of strategy,
a triangulation between
restrooms, ocean, and parking lot.

She sets up camp.
The team must resist
the beckoning water
until the perimeter has been secured
with an old bedspread no one ever liked.

The umbrella is up,
a rainbow-striped flag,
claiming the area.
It is one among hundreds
all bought on sale at Target.

The troops must be prepped
for combating the sun’s ruthless fire.
Armor is poured out
in coconut streams
while little bodies slither out of reach.

Dad slithers too,
but even he cannot escape
the white shields of lotion
Mom applies to his chest, back, arms, legs,
that growing bald spot on the crown of his head.

Finally the squadron is deployed to the sea.
Mom settles into her command post,
one eye on the troops,
the other on the muscled, nearly naked lifeguard
manning his own battle station.

They nod to each other, Mom and the lifeguard,
a silent signal that although she admires the muscles,
those are her babies out there
braving the waves,
and if he doesn’t save them, she’ll take him down.

Hungry stomachs drag the soldiers to headquarters,
and Mom opens her bottomless bag of rations,
while dusting sand off blanket corners, kids, nectarines.
Her PB&J refuels, her wet wipes refresh,
and the troops return to that line between land and sea.

Mom smiles approvingly
at the sand sculptures erected,
the moats dug,
the waves jumped,
the dad buried in the sand by the most industrious of her platoon.

Finally the sun hits that place in the sky,
that it’s-time-to-go-home spot.
Mom rallies the crew
and hands out supplies.
Everyone carries something.

She leads the sun-weary, water-logged company
to the asphalt hangar,
sandy footprints zigzag behind her.
The car is packed with scientific precision
and everyone does the shaking sand off dance.

Car windows open to release the heat
and welcome the salted air.
A deep inhale to take home for the ride,
and the tank rolls out.

Another battle at the beach is won.